ARCpoint Labs of Cincinnati East often gets calls, whether from individuals or employers, asking about the price of a urine drug screen. Unfortunately, there is no immediate answer to this, as it may depend on the size or composition of the drug panel and more importantly, whether it is an instant or lab based test. Below, we will focus on explaining the differences between instant and lab-based urine drug tests and why you need to consider how the test will be used.
There are two basic testing methodologies for a urine drug test:
1. Initial screen - Tests for a drug class but does NOT determine which drug is present
2. Confirmation - Determines the exact substance in the specimen, which allows for a Medical Review Officer to verify against a prescription.
Instant testing uses a Point of Care device that gives a result in minutes, but this is considered an initial screen. Additionally, instant testing may be harder to replicate across collection sites, therefore limiting an employer that has multiple locations to standardize testing.
A lab-based test typically combines both the initial screen and the confirmation and can easily be electronically ordered at thousands of locations around the country. While lab-based testing is required for certain purposes, i.e. the Department of Transportation, it is optional for many other uses. Additionally, it can take 24-48 hours to receive negative test results versus minutes with the instant test.
ARCpoint Labs of Cincinnati East recommends:
1. Use an instant test combined with lab confirmation, especially good for quick turnaround of negatives and for employers with urgent hiring needs
2. Lab-based testing for a large nationwide network of collection sites and automatic confirmation
ARCpoint Labs of Cincinnati East follows industry best practices with urine drug testing, so if your company is looking to implement or evaluate a drug testing program, contact the experts.